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  • In Process

    I'm in the thick of it. Resistance (with a Capital "R") is rearing its ugly head. Design work has been done. All the pieces are up on the design wall. After the design decisions are made, I spent a day doing physical preparation like fusing circles and 'splitting' (cutting/dividing) all the blocks to get ready for sewing. Sewing has started, but there is so much to do that it can feel overwhelming. And Resistance is my companion for now - it's there, but not overtaking me. I'm working.

    While I'm making the decisions and laying out the pieces on the design wall the process feels a lot like painting. Laying in the colors, moving things around, stepping back to take a look, going back into it......

    The biggest difference is that with painting once the strokes are in they are there to stay. Changing them is easy - just paint over it or wipe it away. With a textile piece after all the "strokes" are laid down the labor starts. I have to physically combine all the pieces together. It is very labor intensive. I suppose I could just fuse it and forget it, but that's not my style. I stitch down my fused circles, and I seam in all the "splits". The end result is worth it to me as I think it produces a more complex and sophisticated piece. That's just me - it's insane.

    I alluded to my design process in the last post, so here's a little more about it. I'm taking a huge leap (for me) by showing this work in progress. It will surely look a lot different when it's complete, just by the nature of sewing seams and then quilting.

    Here is my inspiration......

    "The Colosseum Seen From the Farnese Gardens" 1826, oil on paper, Camille Corot


    And here is my quilt in progress......

    working title "Farnese Gardens"

    Do you see any similarities? Can you see where I'm going with this? or where I'm coming from?

    There's more to this process, which I'll try to expound upon in a future post. For now I need to get back to work in the studio. Is blogging considered Resistance?

    Until next time -


  • Thoughts On Process

    I'm at a point on the current quilt where it could go either way - to good or to bad.

    I'm feeling more on the positive side, but there is always doubt.

    I have the basic structure of it up on the design wall and have been taking photos of it in progress. At this mid-point I decided to print pictures of the current layout - one in color and one in grayscale in order to assess value. I'm taking the time now for an assessment, a self-critique of the work in process.

    I've been staring at the quilt layout for awhile, side by side with the print outs. I could immediately see some areas that needed tweaking, so I moved several pieces around.

    The process is not unlike painting. One often sits back to stare at the canvas, maybe putting down one or two brush strokes at a time, in the same way that I'm moving one or two patches of fabric, to see the effect on the whole.

    Sitting and staring is part of the process. It might look to you as if we artists take a lot of breaks and are resting, but the mind is always at work making important decisions!

    Even when I'm not in the studio, thoughts on the work are fermenting beneath the surface. Thinking about what I might do to improve an area, resolve an issue, to give the effect that I hope to communicate.

    As I contemplate I see one area that seems disconnected from the whole and I must decide whether I can tie it in "as is" with the rest of the quilt, or if I need to reconstruct it altogether. I think I can work with the existing section, adding some elements to connect it with the rest.

    There is a certain mood and feeling I want to express and in my estimation the quilt is conveying that.

    I also want to pump up the value contrasts. Printing out a grayscale picture helps me to see that.

    There are some practical technical concerns to think through as well. The design is abstracted, nevertheless the various sections do have to eventually physically fit together - more or less! That is part of the nature of sewing and piecing fabric.

    The self-critique is taking place now in order to address any major design changes before I start to sew. This is a continuation of my "Split Circles" series; I do fuse the circles down and then I sew a satin stitch around the perimeter of each circle to attach them. I'll also be inserting the "splits" - linear elements that will change up the whole look from what it is now. The splits are narrow and I piece them in. It's exacting work, but that's how I do it because it is important to me. The stitching is labor intensive which is why I want to try to resolve any conspicuous flaws ahead of time.

    After that I reliquish some control. As with painting I don't know every brush stroke ahead of time. Decisions will be made as I go. Surprises will happen - hopefully ones that will delight me!

    Although I start with a concept, a vision, and a plan, the work leads down a path of unknowns. If I'm fortunate that path ends having achieved something close to my vision - or better!

    As far as pictures, here are small peeks of the work so far. When the quilt gets closer to resolution I'll feel more confident revealing it.

    Initial fabric selection

    sneak_peek_1_blog sneak_peek_2_blog

    Design layouts
    In my next post I'll talk about the very beginning stages of my process.
    Until next time -



  • Experimentation

    I took my primary sewing machine to the dealer a few days ago for a tune-up, which left me machine-less. Actually, that's not exactly true. There are at least seven other sewing machines around the house. I could lay my hands on three of them right now. But the one I use all the time, other than my longarm quilter, is at the shop.

    I'm taking the time without my machine to work on some other ideas I have. I've been experimenting with alternative materials that I want to eventually incorporate into some quilts. I've done a little bit of this in the past and I continue to have ideas about what I can do with non-traditional materials combined with fabric. I know I'm not the only fabric artist using mixed media, but of course I'm hoping that what I create will look different from what others are doing.

    Right now I'm in the testing and experimental phase. Even though I have lots of images streaming into my brain, I haven't been able to bring them succesfully to fruition yet. I'm making lots of small samples and waiting for genius to hit!

    Being forced to think beyond sewing and thread is a good exercise for me. I have been including hand stitching, which I don't do nearly as much as I used to. My brain readily goes to what I can do with machine stitching and as I've been working manually this week the images of what machine stitching I could use keep streaming in. For me, the effect of surface stitching, whether the quilted line or other stitched elements are integral to the final fabric piece.

    My experiments will be ongoing and at the same time I am continuing work on my "Split Circles" series, where I have a clearer vision of the direction I am going. So, sorry, no pictures this post because there's nothing really worth showing yet.

    I received word that my machine is ready for pick up, so although it has only been three days I am eager to go collect it today. I missed my machine!

    Until next time -


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